Bareunmirae Party starts to splinter
Nine out of 28 lawmakers from the Bareunmirae Party currently in the National Assembly expressed intentions Sunday to leave the party, and some more are expected to join the exodus.
Members of the group said Monday they will accept recommendations for their new party’s name through a contest opened to the public until Thursday, and announce the winner on Friday.
Whoever sends the winning entry will receive prize money of 1 million won ($840) and a chance to dine out with three core members of the new party, Reps. Ha Tae-keung, Yoo Seong-min and Oh Shin-hwan, Ha said in a press briefing Monday at the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul.
Ha said he and his colleagues decided to choose their party’s name through a public contest in order to remind the public of the values of fairness, justice and “reformative central-conservative” politics, all of which the new party will be based on.
In a ceremony marking the launch of a committee tasked with preparing for the new party’s establishment Sunday at the National Assembly, Ha, who was elected the committee’s head on the same day, confidently said he believed the new party can win more than 150 seats in the National Assembly next year to become the largest opposition party - if it manages to “reconstruct a new conservative” force in the Korean political landscape.
Currently, the largest opposition party is the Liberty Korea Party, which has 108 seats, or 36.31 percent of the legislature. The ruling Democratic Party has 129 seats, or 43.73 percent of the total number of seats. The Bareunmirae Party is the third-largest party.
The new party “will be led by young people and win the support of moderates,” Ha said Sunday. “The old conservatives cannot effectively judge the Moon Jae-in administration. The old conservatives cannot with the general election. Opposition parties must all dissolve and newly shuffle the deck.”
Ha emphasized to blow “a new conservative wind” to Korea’s southern regions after gaining a wide youth support base in the Seoul and Gyeonggi regions.
Some proportional lawmakers of the Bareunmirae Party are expected to join the movement to establish a new party as well, Ha said, adding that the representatives couldn’t participate right away because they would have to give up their lawmaker’s status if they leave the party. All nine other lawmakers in the Bareunmirae Party who publicly lent their support to the new conservative party are not proportional lawmakers and represent geographical constituencies.
On the prospects of Ahn Cheol-soo joining the new party, Ha said Sunday he thinks Ahn will definitely join and likely make an announcement by the end of this month.
Ahn was a contender in the previous presidential election and a former chairman of the centrist People’s Party, which later merged with the right-wing Bareun Party to form the Bareunmirae Party.
It didn’t take long for a close aide of Ahn to rebuff Ha’s prediction.
Ahn’s former chief secretary, Kim Do-sik, told reporters in a text message Monday that Ahn has never announced his intention to join the new party, adding Ahn was currently “not in the situation” to make such a decision because he’s “focused” on research while living in a foreign country.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN, YOO SUNG-WOON [email@example.com]